SEASON REVIEW: 2017 Porsche Mobil1 Supercup

Michael Ammermüller faced fierce competition from one of the freshest and most talent filled grids in recent Supercup memory, but emerged victorious after a season long dice with Dennis Olsen.

Credit: Porsche AG

Michael Ammermüller entered the 2017 Porsche Mobil1 Supercup as the firm favourite. The highest placed returning driver from 2016, Ammermüller’s campaign of twelve months ago was one of his less fruitful. Only three podiums across the season, and not a single win, represented unusual regression which didn’t correlate with his increasing experience.

Any ghosts from 2016 were firmly put to the side for 2017. Ammermüller was only off the rostrum once, a disastrous Monza event where multiple incidents with his rivals placed him off the circuit more than once. However, a recovery to tenth was more than sufficient to allow him to go to the season finale at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez with a comfortable championship lead.

His season began with a run of three straight victories across the opening weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya and then Monaco. Ammermüller’s closest challenger in Spain was his Lechner Racing team-mate and Supercup rookie Dennis Olsen. Olsen came into the Supercup off the back of a highly successful debut season in Carrera Cup Deutschland where he was crowned Rookie champion and finished a creditable third overall.

In fact the very first race of 2017 would act as microcosm for the sheer brilliance of the entire Lechner squad’s season. As the new Generation 2 Type 991 GT3 Cup entered competition for the first time, Walter Lechner’s eponymous team seemed to gain an understanding of the intricacies of the new machinery faster than any other team.

Reigning double Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Dan Cammish  joined the squad and instantly established the credentials that would allow him to finish fourth overall in the championship standings, finishing third in the opening race. Truth be told Cammish could have finished even higher in the points table. The highlight of his season came in Monte Carlo where he finished second after a tremendous start.

Cammish would only score one further podium, at the Hungaroring, and the end of his season was hampered by difficult qualifying sessions placing him in the fraught mid-field where he fell victim to contact that ruined his chances.

After Ammermüller’s trio of victories, it was Matt Campbell who would claim his first ever Supercup success at the Red Bull Ring for FACH AUTO TECH. The Porsche Carrera Cup Australia champion of 2016 had started his Supercup career in staggering style by claiming both pole positions available in Barcelona, but left the weekend with only a fifth and a third following start line maladies.

Another fifth in Monte Carlo preceded the Austrian event where Campbell was simply peerless. Whilst FACH must be applauded for producing a quick, at times the quickest, machine Campbell’s pace begged the question of what he could have done in a Lechner operated 911.

Campbell was outstanding throughout 2017. (Credit: Porsche AG)

He also had the measure of his experienced team-mate Josh Webster, 2014 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion. In the context of the other Rookies, Webster’s first full season of Supercup was somewhat lacklustre. The closest he came to a rostrum was fifth at Silverstone, and only here and at the subsequent event at the Hungaroring would he out-finish Campbell.

Seventh in the final standings was no shabby effort, and bad luck too was a factor, but a podium bearing in mind his pedigree should not have proved so elusive.

Silverstone was a turning point in the championship hunt, as Olsen scored his first ever series win. Withstanding pressure from Ammermüller, the Norwegian headed home a Lechner one, two, three, four result with Dylan Pereira and Cammish completing the quartet.

Pereira’s Supercup sophomore featured three podiums, from the Red Bull Ring, Silverstone and finally at Spa-Francorchamps. However, retiring in Monaco and at Monza  damaged his overall position in the standings and the damage was exacerbated further by his absence from the Mexico City races altogether.

Ammermüller bounced back from his defeat in Britain to make the Hungaroring his own. Olsen by this point had become his clearest contender and firmly marked his authority across the action at Spa-Francorchamps, dominating the weekend and taking two pivotal victories.

Mattia Drudi’s debut full Supercup season reached its high point in the first race in Belgium, with a second position for the Dinamic Motorsport team. Italian Carrera Cup runner up in 2016 Drudi scored eight top tens, including a second podium at Monza, and only Robert Lukas’ greater consistency (despite the Polish driver failing to score a podium) kept the Lukas Motorsport driver ahead in the points table.

Olsen closed on Ammermüller at Monza despite both suffering alternate disasters in a frenetic race, fifth and tenth. Campbell here began a faultless conclusion to his season that well and truly sets him up as a favourite for 2018. Three victories across Monza and the season finale double header at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez mirrored Ammermüller’s impeccable early season run.

Ammermüller and Olsen were tied together weekend long in Mexico but ultimately a pair of seconds, to Olsen’s thirds, allowed Ammermüller to maintain sufficient gap to be crowned 2017 Porsche Mobil1 Supercup champion by seven points.

Of the remaining British contingent, Ryan Cullen didn’t quite scale the podium heights he may have hoped to for Lechner, but an end of season run of three top tens bodes well for 2018. Paul Rees was a consistent top fifteen runner for MOMO-Megatron Team Partrax  but should have been closer to the top ten with his experience levels.

Tom Sharp and IDL Racing fell just outside of the top twenty in the championship standings but realistically could have finished higher up without a point-less final weekend in Mexico and Mark Radcliffe enjoyed his step up from Pro-Am2 in Carrera Cup GB. Nick Yelloly deserves high praise for finishing eighteenth in the standings despite only contesting two races at Spa-Francorchamps for FACH AUTO TECH. A seventh and a fourth remarkable in a one off appearance in such a competitive field.

Onwards to 2018, frantic action will continue on the Formula 1 undercard. (Credit: Porsche AG)